Part of the allure of opening a small business has to be that you can name it almost anything you want, and if you want to put a Dad Joke on your signs and business cards, you can totally do that. Wanna call your hair salon Comb As You Are? Sure thing! A bakery named Bread Zeppelin. Do it, that’s terrible! A fish and chips shop called The Battered Wife? Absolu—wait, what?
When former police officer turned restaurant owner Carolyn Kerr opened her Innisfail, Australia eatery, she decided against every other potential combination of English words, and decided to paint THE BATTERED WIFE on her windows instead. Supposedly she justified this by writing “The only battering anyone need know” beside it in smaller letters, punctuating it with a smiley face.
Although the restaurant had been open for more than a year, last fall, a number of politicians spoke out against the restaurant’s name, suggesting that it was making light of domestic violence. “That business is completely out of step with what [the] community’s expectations are,” Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath told news.com.au. “We’re talking about respect, we are talking about changing culture. There’s nothing funny about a statement like that.”
Kerr dug in, telling Australia’s Today that she found it “ludicrous” and “offensive” that anyone would criticize the shop’s name—and she insisted that the name is actually helping the issue. “There is [sic] a lot of beautiful, intelligent women out there in really bad situations and to assume that I was making light of the subject, that I was promoting it,” she said. “[The name is] my own little way to put my personal stamp on what shouldn’t be and make people talk about it, make people think about it and do for the community what I can do to assist this.”
But her “personal stamp” continued to offend a number of Australians, possibly because statistics have shown that one Australian woman is killed every week by a current or former partner. Earlier this week, Kerr said that the shop will close for good on January 28.
“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that The Battered Wife will cease trading on Monday,” she said in a video posted on Facebook. “I’ve been the subject of an abusive witch hunt by a not-for-profit organisation who are anti-abuse, however they threatened to throw bricks through my window, they complained to [The Australian Securities and Investments Commission] to have my business name revoked, but I got through that one.” MUNCHIES reached out to Kerr via Facebook message, but has not yet heard back.
In addition to the “witch hunt,” ABC News reports that she also blames an upcoming audit for her decision to close the restaurant. Kerr’s alleged “witches” are members and supporters of the Red Heart Campaign—a domestic violence advocacy organization—and she has accused them of harassing her.
“The Red Heart Campaign is in no way responsible for the closure of the Battered Wife Fish and Chip Shop,” founder Sherele Moody wrote on Facebook. “Last year, we made one post questioning why someone thought to choose a name that clearly mocks domestic violence survivors [...] The Red Heart Campaign has not reported the business to any authorities and we have not encouraged anyone connected to us to harass or threaten the business or owner.”
Sadly, Kerr herself says that she has been a victim of domestic violence in the past. It seems like she, and other victims, all deserve better than a flippant name for the sake of selling deep-fried fish.